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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Mar. 2, 2010

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

DME OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD AND AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT

(HOUSTON) – Mento Nnana Kaluanya, a Texas resident born in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, entered a plea of guilty yesterday to one count of health care fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today.

Kaluanya, 50, was the sole owner of HyCentral Medical Supplies and Equipment (HyCentral), a durable medical equipment (DME) company set up in Derry, N.H. In a hearing before Judge Nancy Atlas on Monday, March 1, 2010, Kaluanya admitted to engaging in health care fraud and aggravated identity theft in the Southern District of Texas.

Kaluanya admitted that HyCentral, a false store front in New Hampshire, falsely and fraudulently submitted claims to Medicare for equipment that was not ordered nor prescribed by treating physicians, that was not medically necessary, was not delivered to some Medicare beneficiaries nor wanted by some Medicare beneficiaries. The majority of the Medicare beneficiaries were in the Southern District of Texas.

Kaluanya admitted to purchasing Medicare beneficiary numbers and patient documentation and, in return for a portion of the fraudulent proceeds, to allowing other individuals to bill Medicare under HyCentral’s Medicare provider number. He also admitted to using the Universal Provider Identification Number and National Provider Identification Number of a local physician to submit false claims. Documents obtained during the course of the investigation showed that HyCentral did not have any of the required Medicare documentation for claims filed on behalf of approximately 300 Medicare beneficiaries and much of the documentation that did exist was incomplete and inaccurate. Physician orders with the forged signatures of at least 12 Houston area physicians were found in the documentation.

Between May 1, 2006, and Dec. 11, 2008, HyCentral billed Medicare for approximately $3.9 million and was paid approximately $1.6 million.

Kaluanya remains free on bond pending his sentencing which is scheduled for May 17, 2010. He faces a maximum of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three-year-term of supervised release for the health care fraud and a minimum punishment of two years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to one year of supervised release for the aggravated identity theft. The sentence for aggravated identity theft must be served consecutive to the sentence imposed for the health care fraud.

The investigation into Kaluanya and HyCentral was the result of a joint investigation by agents from the Boston, Mass., and Concord, N.H., Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Special Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger prosecuted the case.

    

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